The Museum’s new exhibition Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross displays 200 photographs covertly taken inside the Lodz Ghetto.
Lodz, Poland was a flourishing industrial city in the mid-1800s with a successful textile sector and a mixture of Polish, German, Czech and Jewish inhabitants. Before World War II, a third of the population of 672,000 was Jewish. Lodz’s Jewish residents played a significant role in the economic and cultural life of the city.
In 1939, after World War II began, the German Army invaded Lodz and later renamed it “Litzmannstadt.” As the Nazi regime terrorized the city and destroyed Polish monuments, Catholic churches, and Jewish synagogues, many members of the Jewish population fled to other European countries.
In early 1940, the Nazis rounded up more than 160,000 of the remaining Jews—including Henryk Ross–and forced them into the Lodz Ghetto. The Nazis then isolated the Lodz Jews from the rest of the world using barbed wire, sentry booths and a German police patrol. The ghetto was an area of less than 1.6 square miles situated in the poorest part of the city.
The conditions in the Lodz Ghetto were atrocious from the start and steadily deteriorated until the summer of 1944, when the Nazis sent most of the remaining residents to death camps.